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My Website is Better Than Yours

My Website is Better Than Yours

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Published by Eliot Ness
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Published by: Eliot Ness on May 16, 2009
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While Web logs, or blogsas they are called, are not new by any stretch, they are
just now becoming mainstream enough to have an impact on the way we use the
Web. What exactly is a blog? Glad you asked.
A blog essentially is a different form of Website generally geared around a
chronological organization of posts, like an online diary. Bloggers, as they are called,
are the Webmasters of these sites and are known for posting anything and every-
thing they think of. There are tons of blogs on the Web as I write this, and for the
most part, in my opinion, very few of them have any real substance. Don’t get me
wrong; there are some blog sites rich in good information, tutorials, and insight, but
they are often more like some guy in Indiana talking about the daily turmoil of
working on his 1982 Honda. Ugh.
Anyone can start a blog quickly and easily. Just go to a popular service like blog-
ger.com or typepad.com and sign up. Within minutes you will have a cookie-cutter
Website where you can share anything from random thoughts to well-written arti-
cles on the topic of your choice with the world at large. No coding required—just
pick a template and go. It’s all online with no software to install and practically noth-
ing to learn.

So this is a great way to create my new Website, right?

Maybe…but probably not. Blogging is a niche of Web design that fits a very
narrow purpose: to have a chronological organization of your thoughts or articles.
There is no flexibility without heavy customization for anything beyond that. If you
want to have a shopping cart system to sell your products, or if you want to post a
company or personal information site, a blog is probably not the route for you.
Besides, you will inevitably want to customize the look and feel of your site, and
guess what? You can’t do it with a blog unless you know some HTML. In fact, the



way most blogging systems are set up, you better know a lot about XHTML, CSS,
and XML to make even the slightest customizations.
You could also download and install a blogging system on your Website and not
use any of the online services that are available. But be prepared to know PHP script-
ing, and have a MySQL database server handy, because 99 percent of blogging sys-
tems require it.

Don’t take all this as me being anti-blog because that’s not the case. Just under-
stand that blogging requires a specialized type of Website that does an excellent job
at what it was designed for, but not much beyond that.
All that said, let me tell you a little more about blogs and how they work.
As I’ve already told you, blogs are a chronological listing of posts. These posts
can include any amount of content that you like, from just a quick thought and a
link to some other site to a full-blown article on how to program your TiVo box to
do back flips. Usually these posts are created via an online interface, whether that is
through blogger.com or a system that you’ve installed on your Website.
After the post is created, it is automatically added to your archives. These
archives can be browsed by date, and most systems allow visitors to search the posts
as well. Most blogging system also allow for the public to leave comments on the
posts. This way, the people that read the blog can add their thoughts as well.
When a blogger links to other bloggers’ Websites, this is usually called a blogroll.
Many bloggers make their blogrolls public by putting them in a sidebar on their
Website. This is similar to the Web rings that were so popular a few years ago.
Blogrolls are a good way to see who has common interests and who reads what. This
can be a great indicator of the popularity of a blog, so when you see the same
Website in lots of blogrolls, it’s probably a good site.
Now there are a few special ways that bloggers have created to link to each other
so that they can stitch related information together across multiple Websites. These
are called TrackBack and PingBack.
TrackBackand PingBackare methods of notification between two Websites.
TrackBack is a way for blogger A to tell blogger B, “Hey, this is something you
might be interested in.” Blogger A can send a TrackBack pingto blogger B. Why
would you want to do this? Let’s say that you find a blog that has a review of a book
you just read. You decide that this person has missed a few key points and so you
want to talk about them on your Website. You could send a TrackBack to the other
person’s blog to notify them (and the other people reading the post) that you have
added a similar post on your blog. Everyone who sees that post from then on is
aware that you have a similar post.
So what if you want to know when someone links to a post on your blog? That’s
what a PingBack is for. This is a method to request notification when somebody
links to one of your posts. This enables you to keep track of who is linking to, or



referring to, your posts. This way, when someone links to you in one of their posts
(and they use PingBacks), you will get a notice on your post. Some blogging soft-
ware supports automatic PingBacks, where all the links in a published article can be
pinged when the article is published.
This brings me to one of the greatest tools that is used by the blogging com-
munity and is now being embraced by Websites all over, RSS

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